Paper towels are a completely unnecessary household item because they are so wasteful. Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable, easy paper towel alternatives available.
In an effort to produce less waste and cause less harm to our planet, is becoming more mainstream to try and achieve a zero waste kitchen. While this may sound overwhelming, baby steps toward being zero waste will make a big difference over time. Paper towels are a great place to start. A commonplace item in most kitchens, single use paper towels are not recyclable, which is really wasteful – but at the same time easily preventable.
While many may think to turn to microfiber cloths instead, these are unfortunately a very unsustainable alternative due to the microplastics they release in our water. Luckily, there are many other options out there which can be used as paper towel alternatives.
1. Paper Towel Alternative: Natural Sponges
When it comes to cleaning up spills or wiping down and disinfecting surfaces, sponges are an easy alternative to paper towels. They can be used many times before you need to throw them away, and there are even biodegradable options which can be composted such as these sponges on Amazon** made of coconut fibre and wood cellulose. The best option, however, would be natural, organic sponges that are washable and therefore do not need to be disposed of at all. These MioEco sponges are perfect in that way, and are also available on Amazon**.
2. Cotton Napkins: A Decorative Alternative to Paper Towels
Traditional cotton napkins are not only for restaurants. They are affordable and easy to find, and make great alternatives to paper towels. For example, you can find GOTS-certified organic cotton napkins by Honest Weave on Amazon**. You can use them at meal times, as well as for cleaning up around the house. And they last for years as they are machine washable.
3. Reusable Beeswax Wrap: Paper Towel Alternative for Food Storage
Beeswax wraps are a great alternative to paper towels, as well as plastic wrap or aluminum, when it comes to food storage. These can be used to store cheese, herbs, lemon halves and more. They should be hand-washed using cold water. Check out these on Amazon**.
4. Old T-Shirts, Towels or Sheets
One of the most sustainable alternatives to paper towels is actually to find options that are already lying around your home. This might mean old t-shirts, towels and sheets that are stained or have holes in them. Check around your house and see if you have anything you can cut up and use as rags around the house. You can even make a fun project out of it and sew together a patchwork cloth.
5. Swedish Dishcloths
Swedish dishcloths are highly absorbent and can be used to wipe up spills, wash dishes, and clean surface areas in your home. They are made from sustainable materials, are machine washable, and can even be composted. Check out these dishcloths on Amazon** which are made from cotton and wood pulp. They can even absorb twenty times more liquid than their weight.
6. Tea Towels: A Limited but Robust Paper Towel Alternative
Traditional tea towels are highly effective as well. While they may not be as versatile as some other paper towel alternatives, like Swedish dishcloths, regular kitchen towels can also be used for wiping up spills and cleaning around your house. You can also cut down on paper towel usage by using these to dry your hands after doing dishes, for example. They are affordable, accessible, machine washable, come in lots of fun colors and patterns, and can be used for years to come.
7. Reusable Paper Towel
Reusable paper towels are just like regular paper towels, except more sustainable. They’re reusable, dishwasher and machine washable, and biodegradable. They are also quick drying and can be used many times before needing a wash, which makes them very convenient. Check out these Wowables reusable paper towels on Amazon**, made from wood pulp and cotton, using all natural dye. Use them to keep your kitchen, bathroom and windows clean. They are even strong enough to be used washing floors.
8. Natural Loofahs
Loofahs are not just for exfoliating your skin. They can be used in place of paper towels when you need to properly scrub a dish or surface area clean. Organic loofahs from the loofah plant (like this one on Amazon**) are durable, long lasting, and environmentally sustainable. They don’t shed microplastics and don’t collect as many bacteria as their plastic twins.
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